Sunday, July 5, 2009

My new MySpace page!

Check out my new MySpace page, dedicated to my writing. Here's the link:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

July Space Article-National Scene Magazine-"Can Black Holes Help Determine How Galaxies Are Formed?"

July Space Article-National Scene Magazine

July Space Article-National Scene Magazine

Can Black Holes Help Astronomers Determine How Galaxies Are Formed?

The American Astronomical Society Seems to Think So, With Discovery of M87’s Black Hole Being Bigger Than Previously Thought

Written by: Karen Benardello

The most massive black hole ever weighed has been discovered at the heart of the galaxy M87, which is 50 million light-years away from our galaxy the Milky Way, the American Astronomical Society announced at its June 8 meeting in Pasadena, CA. The black hole, now determined to weigh 6.4 billion times the mass of the sun, is two to three times bigger than previously thought.

This new discovery means that other black holes in other large galaxies could also be much heavier than current measurements suggest. Adjusting how other black holes are measured could help scientists better understand how galaxies form.

The finding “is important for how black holes relate to galaxies,” society member Jens Thomas of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics said. “If you change the mass of the black hole, you change how the black hole relates to the galaxy.”

This relationship could impact astronomers’ current theories of how galaxies grow and form.

The M87 galaxy is so important it’s believed to be one of the first galaxies to harbor a central black hole, which was discovered nearly three decades ago. Astronomers now also think that most large galaxies, including the Milky Way, have supermassive black holes at their centers.

Astronomers also believe that M87 is the best place to study black holes, as it has an active jet that shoots light out of the galaxy’s core. This light helps astronomers understand how black holes attract and consume matter.

Movie Review: Bohemia: The Life of a New York City Poet

Written by: Karen Benardello

Movie Review:

R Media Inc. Films in conjunction with AB Film Productions Present:

Bohemia: The Life of a New York City Poet

Move over Dead Poet’s Society; here comes the new great poetry movie. The new R. Media Inc. Film documentary Bohemia: The Life of a New York City Poet features interviews with, and the poems of, some of New York’s best undiscovered talents, ready to break free from the underground scene and into the mainstream.

Bohemia does an expert job of featuring artists young and old from different races and experiences. As Bob Holman, who founded the Bowery Poetry Club, a bar in Manhattan’s Lower East Side that provides a performance outlet for both established and upcoming artists, stated in the beginning of the movie, you never know what’s going to come out of the featured poets’ mouths. Considering Bohemia is focused on New York poets, this is expected, but director Richard Ramson also features poems that are not offensive to anyone, and really show what life is like in the Big Apple.

One featured artist, a young black man nicknamed “Blis” (whose album Alive is for sale at, said that artists need to release their tensions through art. If they don’t, their tension will come out in other, potentially violent, ways. Brigid Murnaghan, an older white woman, agreed, saying that people need poetry, and rightfully said that people feel free once they read what they’ve written out loud.

One of the most touching interviews and readings came from Sandy Rochelle, a mother of an autistic son who spoke about what it feels like to raise her child while always being ignored by other parents and children. She said that her and her son were “cast away from the chosen,” and in a heartbreaking moment, pondered how her son would survive once she’s gone.

Another sentimental reading and interview came from Paul Knopf, a jazz musician who served in World War II. His poem focused on death and the soldiers he encountered while fighting, which he said he dealt with by writing. Knopf spoke of one of his most personal and difficult times of when he was put in detox, his roommate would continuously escape, and how he dealt with the commotion.

The documentary paid a deserving tribute to Knopf, as his group, OutCat, was featured as the opening (“Charleston”) and closing (“Blues on a Wet Thursday”) theme songs. Knopf played the drums, Ron Miller was on bass and Walter Perkins on drums.

Bohemia: The Life of a New York City Poet showed that while the residents of the city that never sleeps are often depicted as tough-as-nails, the people in the poetry community really do come together, and are happy to take anyone interested in expressing themselves through words under their wing. This documentary is a must-see for anyone who wants to get started in New York’s poetry scene.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What Will NASA’s Launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Tell Scientists About the Moon’s Environment?-July National Scene Magazine Space Article

July Space Article-National Scene Magazine

What Will NASA’s Launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Tell Scientists About the Moon’s Environment?

NASA, Who is Returning to the Moon with its First Lunar Launch in a Decade, Hopes to Embark on an Extraordinary Period of Discovery

Written by: Karen Benardello

NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) sent its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a robotic spacecraft, to the moon on June 18 to gather the most information about the lunar environment than any other previous mission to the moon. The spacecraft, known as the LRO, was placed in low polar orbit about 31 miles above the moon, and will embark on an unmanned one year primary mission.

LRO’s instruments will help scientists compile high resolution three-dimensional maps of the lunar surface. The mission will also survey the surface at spectral wavelengths, explore the moon’s deepest craters and provide scientists with an understanding of the effects of lunar radiation on humans.

“This is a very important day for NASA,” said Doug Cooke, an associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington, which designed and developed both the LRO mission, as it is also NASA’s first lunar launch to the moon in a decade. “We look forward to an extraordinary period of discovery at the moon and the information LRO will give us for future exploration missions.”

LRO’s camera will use high resolution imagery to help find landing sites for future explorers and characterize the moon’s topography and composition. The hydrogen concentrations at the moon’s poles will also be mapped in detail, pinpointing the locations of possible water ice. A miniaturized radar system will also test communication capabilities.

“Our job is to perform reconnaissance of the moon's surface using a suite of seven powerful instruments,” said Craig Tooley, the LRO project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “NASA will use the data LRO collects to design the vehicles and systems for returning humans to the moon and selecting the landing sites that will be their destinations.”

All LRO initial data sets will be sent to the Planetary Data System, a publicly accessible repository of planetary science information, within six months of its launch. “We learned much about the moon from the Apollo program, but now it is time to return to the moon for intensive study, and we will do just that with LRO,” said Richard Vondrak, the LRO project scientist at Goddard.

"Drag Me to Hell" Movie Review

Title: Drag Me To Hell

Directed by: Sam Raimi (Spider Man)

Starring: Justin Long (Serious Moonlight, Live Free or Die Hard ) and Alison Lohman (Beowulf)

Scores: Technical: 95, Story: 85, Acting: 80, Overall: 87

With all of the hype in the teen-aged horror community surrounding the Twilight series in recent months, it was easy to question how Ghost House Pictures’ new PG-13 release, Drag Me To Hell, would compare. Also being directed and written by Sam Raimi, famously remembered for the smash hit Spiderman trilogy starring Toby Maguire and the revolutionary ‘80s Evil Dead series, and veering away from the slasher sub-genre that has always dominated the box office, Drag Me To Hell had high expectations to fill in order to be remembered as its own film.

The movie focuses on bank loan officer Christine Brown’s (played by Alison Lohman of White Oleander and Flicka) determination to break free from her childhood of being raised on a farm and making it in LA. She tries to impress her boss, Mr. Jacks (played by David Paymer), and beat out her new co-worker Stu for the assistant manager position. To prove that she can make tough decisions, Christine, who goes against her better judgment, denies a third extension on Sylvia Ganush’s mortgage.

Ganush, an elderly gypsy, gets down on her knees to beg Christine for another extension, and feels she is shamed when Christine refuses and instead calls for the bank’s security. That night, Ganush attacks Christine in her car after she leaves work, removes a button from her jacket and uses it to place a curse on her. Later, when Christine’s boyfriend Clay Dalton (played by Justin Long of He’s Just Not That Into You), starts to take her home when they pass a fortune teller’s store. Christine insists they go in, and the teller tells her that she has a dark spirit upon her. The next day, the teller also tells her that she will be tormented for three days before a powerful demon drags her to hell to burn for eternity.

While Drag Me To Hell, like most horror movies, isn’t totally realistic, it succeeded in showing the powerful effects religion and trying to beat a pre-determined fate has on people. Christine, a well-rounded woman destined to become successful in the beginning of the movie, tried multiple things later on to appease the demon in order to live. For example, she killed her cat; held a séance, during which she tried to sacrifice a goat; and tried to pass her fate to someone else by giving them her cursed coat button.

Raimi also lived up to his previous famed works by including outrageous and unpredictable special effects. For example, during the car attack scene, Christine staples Ganush’s eye shut, who then in turn bites her chin. There were great effects involving animals during the séance scene, including when the demon enters the goat and starts to attack Christine, and when one of the assistants regurgitates her cat.

With all of its gross-out and special effect scenes, Drag Me To Hell is reminiscent of Raimi’s earlier work, notably the Evil Dead series, and is a great way to introduce new fans, or reacquaint old fans, with the director. Rated PG-13 for sequences of horror violence, terror, disturbing images and language, Drag Me To Hell will appease horror fans of all ages.

Written by: Karen Benardello

"Humpday" movie review

Title: Humpday

Directed by: Lynn Shelton (My Effortless Brilliance)

Actors: Mark Duplass, Joshua Leonard and Alycia Delmore.

Scores: Technical: 75, Story: 95, Acting: 95, Overall: 88

Forget what you think you know about “bromances” from major studio movies, such as Warner Bros. Pictures’ The Hangover, even though it was number one at the box office for two weeks. Humpday, the new comedy that was written, produced and directed by Lynn Shelton and is part of the independent mumblecore movement (movies that usually focus on personal relationships between twenty-somethings, have improvised scripts and feature mostly non-professional actors), was expertly made to show what old, partying college friends really do when they get back together.

The movie chronicles the reunion of Andrew (played by Joshua Leonard, who originally made his mark in the independent world when he played a fictionalized version of himself in the mega-successful The Blair Witch Project) and Ben (played by Mark Duplass, a favorite in the mumblecore movement), several years after college. Andrew, who is still a partier and has just returned from Mexico City, asks to stay with Ben and his wife Anna (played by Alycia Delmore) in their Seattle home.

But only after a day, Andrew convinces Ben to get back into their old ways by going to a sex-filled party at the home of his new open-minded friend, Monica (played by Shelton), who he met at a grocery store. Andrew’s new friends talk about making home-made, amateur pornography movies for the HUMP! annual film festival (a real event that began in Seattle in 2005, which showcases amateur sex movies and locally produced pornography).

After consuming a lot of alcohol, both Andrew and Ben decide it would be fun to showcase them, two straight men, having sex together. The next day, after their hangovers are gone, they try to prove that the other doesn’t know anything about their lifestyle, and they decide to go through with making the movie.

Both Leonard and Duplass were the real stars of the movie, as they were comfortable enough with their sexuality to act in a movie with this sort of topic. They didn’t seem to care what people would think of them for taking roles that would let them explore their curious sexual sides. Delmore deserves credit for her acting as well, showing that unlike big Hollywood movies, women don’t readily give into what their husbands want, and stand up for what they think is right.

Shelton also deserves some of the spotlight for not being afraid to make a movie about male sexuality. While most other writers and directors wouldn’t even want to touch the subject, Shelton dove right into it, focusing on how Andrew and Ben related to each other, and showing that the idea of making a porn movie together had relatively little effect on their friendship. It also seemed as though Shelton allowed the actors to stray from the script and ad-lib some lines, which helped the movie showcase how men really act around each other.

Due to these efforts, Shelton, who won the 2008 “Someone to Watch Award” at the Independent Spirit Awards for her movie My Effortless Brilliance, was deservingly honored again by having Humpday not only screened at Sundance, but by also winning the Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Independence. Humpday was even considered for selection to show at the Cannes Film Festival.

While Humpday was rated R for strong sexual content, pervasive language and a scene of drug use and definitely isn’t appropriate for children, all men, and women who want to understand why guys act the way they do around each other, should definitely see this movie.

Written by: Karen Benardello